problem growing in Hyde Park area
February 16, 2009 | HYDE PARK -- Graffiti is a seasonal
crime. Summer brings about three "tagging" (graffiti-related)
crimes per week, says North Park Police Sgt. John Italasano.
It tapers off during the winter season to about two
The messages in paint on the water tank located behind
the SVU hill last summer read "fuck police" and "hate
Logan city," Italasano said.
"It's just kids out past midnight with nothing better
to do than destroy property," Italasano said. "And that's
all they're doing, is destroying property."
Gangs will also mark their territory with gang names
or logos, he said.
Italasano said catching the perpetrator in the act
is not easy. Usually, the crime is reported the next
day, he said, and to catch the perpetrator, police compare
the logo to photographs of previous tags to see which
gang was involved.
Italasano said officers are able to keep tabs on gang
members because they're always running into them. "They're
always giving a reason" for officers to talk to them,
"Sometimes we can get them to roll over on who did
the actual tagging," he said. "Just threaten them with
something, you know, 'tell us who did this or we're
going to arrest you and add this charge and this charge.'
"I got a saying, my saying is I don't get mad, I just
add another charge. It's just working people against
North Park Police detective Ulysses Black says gangs
will mark their own city, and gangs from a different
city will see it, spray an X over the current tag and
spray their logo next to it. Once the gang sees that
their logo has been tampered with, they go to the other
gang's city and do the same thing, he said. It is by
this repeated process, Black said, that graffiti gets
out of hand.
There are a number of reasons why gangs do that, he
says: to challenge the other gang, retaliate, show territory
or let others know that they are there.
Black says city property gets tagged the most often,
next is private property and then commercial property.
People join gangs for several reasons, Black says,
to feel accepted, for protection, or because it runs
in the family, also known as generational gangs. Cache
county is seeing a "huge increase" in gang-related graffiti,
Not all graffiti is gang related, though. Black said
there are people known as taggers who go around spraying
pictures on building walls or fences.
To tell the difference, Black said, "Taggers usually
put pictures with bubbly words, while gangs have sloppy
writing or gang names or monikers."
When Italasano joined the North Park Police 17 years
ago, he says there were no gangs in Cache county. Nowadays,
he estimates there are a dozen.
"As gangs grow in popularity among kids, tagging is
going to grow," Italasano said.